SCANDINAVIAN R5A, Section 1: Desolate Visions: Nordic Narratives of the (Post-) Apocalypse

TuTh 8-9:30 , 251 Dwinelle. Instructor: Zachary Blinkinsop

Units: 4

All Reading & Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the first half or the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement. 


Nuclear war. Climate change. Interplanetary collision. There are many horrific ways that our species could become extinct. Stories about the apocalypse may seem far-fetched but they explore the consequences of real world threats such as geopolitical brinkmanship and the melting ice caps. Although we will briefly discuss the history of apocalyptic narratives in medieval and early modern Europe, the course will focus on texts and films produced after 1945. Questions that undergird the course include: how does apocalyptic literature manifest utopian desires? Do such stories exhort us to action or placate us with their pessimism? What does ‘the end of the world’ mean and, for that matter, what is the ‘world’? We will work chronologically through course materials and familiarize ourselves with Nordic and to a lesser degree American and Soviet history, politics, and culture. All readings are available in English.


Aniara , Harry Martinson, 1956, Sweden
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr., 1959, USA
After the Flood, P.C. Jersild, 1982, Sweden
Memory of Water, Emmi Itäranta, 2013, Finland

Dr. Strangelove, Dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1964, USA
Melancholia, Dir. Lars von Trier, 2011, Denmark/Sweden

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1A/R5A courses without completing this prerequisite.